Top 5 Davit Arm Mistakes That Could Cost You Dearly

Davit arms play a crucial role in building maintenance, especially for high-rise structures. They provide essential support for suspended platforms used in tasks such as window cleaning, facade repairs, and other maintenance activities. However, improper use or neglect of these systems can lead to severe consequences, both in terms of safety and cost.  We have seen  the damage that common davit arm mistakes can cause firsthand. In this article, we’ll explore the top five mistakes that could cost you dearly and provide insights on how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Improper Installation

The Importance of Proper Installation

Proper installation of davit arms is critical to ensure their functionality and safety. An incorrectly installed davit arm can fail under load, leading to dangerous and costly accidents. According to Cal-OSHA guidelines, all anchorage points must be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per employee attached (§1670. Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Personal Fall Restraint Systems and Positioning Devices). 

Davit arms must have a safety factor of 4  (§3295. Powered Platform Installations–Equipment).  While a specific weight capacity is not listed in the Cal-OSHA code, a safety factor of 4 means each davit should be capable of supporting at least 1000 lbs for most suspended scaffolding maintenance applications. 

Common Installation Errors and How to Avoid Them

One of the most common installation errors is using sockets that aren’t properly rated to hold the davit arms. This mistake can be avoided by strictly following the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines during installation. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure that all components are compatible and correctly aligned.

Personal Anecdote: A Costly Oversight

We once inspected a building where the davit arms had been installed using sockets with inadequate ratings. The oversight wasn’t discovered until an incident occurred where the davit arm failed, resulting in significant property damage and a halt in operations. This incident could have been prevented with proper installation practices and adherence to safety standards.

Mistake #2: Inadequate Training

The Importance of Training for Maintenance Personnel

Proper training for maintenance personnel is essential to ensure the safe operation of davit arms. Inadequate training can lead to misuse, increasing the risk of accidents and equipment damage.

Consequences of Inadequate Training

Without comprehensive training, personnel may not understand the correct procedures for erecting and using davit arms. This can result in improper handling, such as incorrect use of winches or “Tirfor” devices, which are crucial for safely raising davits from the ground into place.

Tips for Ensuring Comprehensive Training

To avoid these issues, ensure that all personnel receive thorough training on the specific types of davit arms and equipment they will be using. Regular refresher courses and hands-on training sessions can help reinforce proper techniques and safety protocols.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Regular Inspections

Importance of Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are vital for ensuring the safety and functionality of davit arms. According to Cal-OSHA, all equipment used for suspension work must be inspected before each use and periodically by a qualified person (§3296. Inspection and Tests, (b)).

Common Signs of Wear and Tear

During inspections, look for signs of wear and tear such as:

  • Load Rating Plate Not Visible or Legible: Ensure that the load rating plate is always visible and legible. This is crucial for verifying the equipment’s capacity.
  • Cracks, Bends, or Abrasions: These are signs of structural damage that can compromise the integrity of the davit arm.
  • Missing Pieces: Check for missing pins, anti-withdrawal devices, and other essential components.

Personal Anecdote: The Hidden Dangers

In one inspection, we found a davit arm with several critical components missing, including the anti-withdrawal pins. The building management had not conducted regular inspections, putting the workers at severe risk. We were able to easily replace the pins, but regular inspections could have easily identified and rectified these issues. 

Mistake #4: Overlooking Weight Limits

Explanation of Weight Limits and Their Importance

Each davit arm has a specific weight limit, which must not be exceeded. Exceeding these limits can cause the davit arm to fail, leading to accidents and injuries.

Risks Associated with Exceeding Weight Limits

With the increasing weight of modern equipment, it’s essential to ensure that davit arms can support the load. Davit arms with less than a 1000 lb rating should be phased out to accommodate heavier equipment.  For more information and specifications about davit arm weight capacities please refer to the Cal OSHA code, specifically §3295. Powered Platform Installations–Equipment, (c), (3).

Best Practices for Adhering to Weight Limits

The best way to ensure your system can support higher-rated davits is to conduct regular load tests. Investing in new, higher-rated davits from a reputable supplier, such as FEIS, can also prevent weight-related failures.  It’s also important to remember that if you are upgrading your davits to a higher weight capacity, you need to make sure that your system is able to withstand higher ratings.  A load test from FEIS is the best way to ensure that your system is properly rated (§3296. Inspection and Tests).

Mistake #5: Using Incorrect Equipment for Specific Jobs

Overview of Different Types of Davit Arms

Different tasks require different types of davit arms. Using the wrong type of davit arm for a job can lead to inefficiencies and safety risks.

Risks of Using the Wrong Type of Davit Arm

Selecting the incorrect davit arm can result in improper support and potential failure during use. This mistake can be avoided by understanding the specific requirements of each job and matching them with the appropriate davit arm.

How to Select the Right Davit Arm for Each Task

Consult with experts like those at FEIS to help you refer to manufacturer guidelines to ensure that you are using the correct davit arm for the job. Regularly update your equipment inventory to match the evolving needs of your maintenance tasks.  If you are unsure what davit arm is the right one for your maintenance needs, reach out to FEIS.

How to Avoid Common Davit Arm Mistakes

Summary of Best Practices to Prevent the Top 5 Mistakes

To avoid common davit arm mistakes, adhere to the following best practices:

  • Ensure proper installation by following manufacturer guidelines.
  • Provide comprehensive training for all maintenance personnel.
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify and address wear and tear.
  • Adhere to weight limits and phase out outdated equipment.
  • Use the correct davit arm for each specific job.

Importance of Ongoing Education and Adherence to Safety Protocols

Continuous education and strict adherence to safety protocols are essential for maintaining safe and efficient building maintenance operations. Regular training sessions and staying updated with industry standards can make a significant difference.

Reduce the risk of common davit arm mistakes

Avoiding common davit arm mistakes is crucial for maintaining safety and efficiency in building maintenance. Proper installation, regular inspections, adequate training, adherence to weight limits, and using the correct equipment are essential practices that can prevent costly and dangerous incidents. Investing in proper training and regular inspections not only ensures compliance with safety standards but also protects the well-being of your personnel and the integrity of your buildings.

By following these guidelines and learning from the experiences of others, you can significantly reduce the risk of common davit arm mistakes and ensure a safer working environment.

Remember, safety and efficiency go hand in hand. Don’t let common davit arm mistakes cost you dearly.

For more information on davit arm safety and maintenance, or to schedule a professional inspection, contact us at Facade Equipment Inspection Services (FEIS) today.